Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surviving Christmas

We were proud of ourselves.
We had pulled out a pack-n-play Christmas Eve and set it up near the television. We had a Wiggles DVD ready to go. We figured the boys could tear through their stockings in the pack-n-play the next morning. When the novelty wore off, they could watch Greg, Murray, Jeff and Anthony do "The Flap." Hopefully, that would keep them entertained and keep everyone else's gifts intact until breakfast.
After breakfast, we could try naps.
I never thought it could be simpler than that.
Jonathan and Matthew awoke around 6 a.m. to a tree surrounded by gifts for them, their grandparents, their older brother, their sister, my husband and me. It was a sea of clashing colors, glitter and patterns. It was the ultimate temptation. It was irresistable even for me.
The older kids were not up yet, so we decided to put the babies down for a bit to see how they reacted. They were off as soon as they touched the floor. On hands and knees, they flew past the gifts, past the tree and over to the opening in the gate that divides the living room from the kitchen.
They left it all behind for the dog door, the air vents and chairs that can be slid back and forth across the tile and the hardwood. And there they stayed most of the morning.
Happy just to be free.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ranters and Ravers

I was perusing an online bulletin board yesterday for moms of multiples when I came across a thread of rants about people who stop moms and comment on their twins in malls, in grocery stores, in Target and in Wal-Mart.
One woman was furious with people who praise her older daughter for being such a good helper. "Come on people. She's only three," she wrote. Another could not believe that anyone would ask whether her babies were, indeed, twins. A third was insulted by people who ask her how she handles it all.
People can be so rude.
No, no, no.
Not the folks who make the comments: twin moms.
Sure it can be tough sometimes. I've had my share of incidents. One man insisted my twins were not identical. He just wouldn't give up. So I did. A clerk at Dillard's once blocked my way. She just stood there ogling the boys for several minutes. When I tried to get around her, she stepped in my path again. She persisted until another clerk pulled her away. A neighbor's 9-year-old son once grabbed one baby by the face and screamed in another baby's ear (We stay away from them now.).
But that's three incidents in 11 months.
And they were real.
It was not a matter of perception.
Before I had twins, I was not versed in twin etiquette. I had never referred to any twins as "double trouble," but I can't imagine I would find it insulting. Nor would have considered that acknowledging the difficulties of juggling twins or complimenting a three-year-old sibling would be rude.
Many of the comments on that thread were funny and light-hearted. But there were some twin moms who just seemed to get a high off of the opportunity to be haughty in return. Their babies are their power trips.
It's a shame.
Some folks are just a little overwhelmed when they see twins. They want to say something. Anything. And they don't hire speech writers. It just comes out. Sometimes, it comes out beautifully. Other times, the result is awkward.
Who cares? Really?
My boys are a blessing. They are not double trouble. I don't need sympathy. And sometimes I get exasperated when errands take me three times longer than they should. But when I do feel myself becoming exasperated, I think of the smiles and I remember how easily the twins can brighten a day, simply by their existence. How selfish that would be of me to deny someone that moment.
There was one mom on that thread who saw the light. She was shopping with four of her children, including her twins. A woman asked whether they were all hers. She felt that rage, that urge to be rude, rising inside her, but she decided to fight it this time. She smiled and said that yes, they were.
"I almost cried right there," she wrote. "She had two kids like 5 or so years apart and she wished they were closer in age. We had a great conversation for the few seconds my wildness would allow."
Thank goodness she let her wild side rule.

Monday, December 17, 2007


About a year ago, the dog learned to nudge open the kitchen garbage can with his nose and forage through the contents. We remedied that problem by always making sure that we shut the can tightly.
That didn't stop the twins.
At least they shared.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mixed Up Mom

Mischievous giggles drew me into the nursery this afternoon. Both boys should have been fast asleep. I had put them down for naps more than half an hour before and they were exhausted.
But there, in Jonathan's crib, stood the most irresistible little bundle of a guy, smiling, drooling and shaking his crib with vigor.
I lifted him out and pulled him close to me, letting him rest his cheek against mine. It was something Matthew would normally do. Jonathan is more likely to snuggle into my neck. But things always change with these guys. They pick mannerisms and habits up from each other.
We stayed that way for a few moments and then moved into the living room. For the next 20 minutes, I cuddled him and played with him on the floor. I held him up to the mirror and said, "There's Jonny!" I played, "How big is Jonny? Soooooo big!" I whispered, "Mommy loves you Jonny" over and over again in his ear.
Then came a short cry from the nursery.
The baby I lifted from Matthew's crib snuggled into my neck. I pulled him away and looked at the vein across his nose. Nausea washed through my stomach.
I had mixed them up before.
For a moment.
Maybe two.
But never for this long.
I'm sure that in a few days, maybe even in a few hours, I'll find the humor in this. But, right now, it's lost to me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Experts

The experts at e-mailed me a newsletter the other day. The weekly newsletters are generated according to the babies' ages. They are intended to enlighten parents about developmental milestones while also offering tips for coping, feeding, sleeping--you name it. This particular issue focused on interaction with peers.
"For the most part," the experts write, "babies this age parallel play, staying happily engrossed in their own activities alongside one another, but without really interacting. This is normal — focusing on their own abilities and needs is how they develop. Over time, though, you'll notice your baby stealing glances at fellow babies, and she may crawl over to try to use the same toy."
Clearly, they have not studied twins.
Soon after I read this, I watched Matthew chase Jonathan on hands and knees from the living room, through the gate and into the kitchen. Once they reached the tile floor, Jonathan sat, turned in Matthew's direction and started laughing. Matthew stopped, looked at his brother and laughed in return.
And they were not just giggling.
These were deep, honest, belly laughs.
A moment later, they were at it again, heading toward the dining room at full speed. This chase-sit-laugh-and-repeat game continued for about 10 minutes. It ended when they reached the bookshelf. Unfortunately, for them, my husband and I had removed the books that they had so enjoy taking off the shelves and shredding.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, Matthew and Jonathan have interacted with growls, grunts and other noises since they were four months old. Now, each nap or bedtime begins with the two of them standing up, hanging onto their crib rails and shaking them with all their might while exchanging laughter.
Toys have been a problem since the boys began to scoot at about 6 months. The rattle, ball or block in the other baby's hand is always much more fun. Tug-of-wars erupt about every 10 or 15 minutes. Several of the most controversial toys have gotten time-outs atop the entertainment center.
And let's not forget empathy.
Matthew has developed a habit of pushing food out between what few teeth he has and letting it slide out of his mouth. He seems to like the sensation of applesauce flooding his chin and neck. I decided I had to nip this habit. So, the other day, I issued a scolding "no" as soon as I saw the food beginning to emerge.
Matthew seemed startled. Then his eyes scrunched, his lips quivered and the tears began. Jonathan looked over at his brother. They locked eyes for an instant and suddenly the same sorrowful expression washed over him. Within seconds, both boys were sobbing uncontrollably in their highchairs.
I find it hard to believe their level of interaction is unique. I'm guessing that it is common for twins, whether identical or fraternal, to begin interacting at earlier ages. It requires different parenting strategies than those recommended by the experts.
For instance, I probably would have kept scolding Matthew if he were a singleton until the stream from his mouth dried up. But he won. I'm tough enough to handle one set of quivering lips, but not two.
Dribble away.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Matthew and Jonathan have learned to work as a team.
Just two days ago, they simultaneously grabbed the top of the gate that divides the living room from the foyer, keeping them safe from all the dangers that lurk beyond. They pulled themselves up and started shaking it with huge grins on their faces.
I glanced.
I grinned in returned.
I walked away.
Moments later, I heard a crash.
They had torn the gate down.
I am so naive.